Cristiano Ronaldo is struggling to overcome the injury that has blighted his preparation for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
It’s even been speculated that the Portuguese striker could miss their opening game at the tournament, which will see Portugal go up against Germany.
Ronaldo is widely regarded as the best player in the world thanks to his startling goal-scoring form for Real Madrid and Portugal, which landed him last year’s Ballon D’Or.
However, over the last few weeks of the season he struggled to re-capture these performances because of a thigh injury. Even though he starred and scored in the Champions League Final against Atletico Madrid, which Real won 4-1, Ronaldo was ruled out of Portugal’s warm-up match with Greece on Saturday.
Portugal manager Paulo Bento was quoted as saying just before the match, “[Cristiano Ronaldo] will be with us but he will not compete. What I don’t want to do is put any sort of pressure on a player that causes them to compete when they are not in the right state to do so.”
These comments have led many insiders to speculate that Ronaldo might be forced to miss the game with Germany, and Bento’s following words only exacerbated these rumors.
“We’re not setting any deadlines,” he added. “The player’s well-being comes first. I want him to be in the best possible form without running any risks. We must have a team that competes with the players who are usually the first choices and can compete with players who maybe aren’t among the first choices.”
Ronaldo’s presence has led many to ear-mark Portugal as outsiders for the 2014 World Cup, especially since he scored the all important hat-trick against Sweden in the playoff last year to confirm their place at the tournament.
Portugal are in what has been widely labelled the group of death. That’s because it consists of Portugal, Germany, USA, and Ghana, and with Ronaldo on their roster Portugal are heavily fancied to make it to the knockout stages. But without his presence, USA and Ghana will fancy their chances of progressing instead of the European counterparts.
After their 0-0 draw with Greece, Bento declared, “We have to be prepared and we have to be able to play without players who are our first choices.”
Real Madrid defender Pepe also missed Portugal’s match with Greece too, as he was unable to shake off the calf injury that meant he missed last Saturday’s Champions League final.
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